[IAEP] Behavioral Economics to Concrete Actions was Sugar Digest 2009-08-17

Caroline Meeks solutiongrove at gmail.com
Tue Aug 18 09:46:31 EDT 2009

As I read this I thought...what of the things on our/my current TODO lists
relates to each of these principals.

> 2. Some other summer reading includes a short article on behavioral
> economics published by the New Economics Foundation
> [http:neweconomics.org] that discusses some principles of behavior
> that we may want to consider was we consider how to maximize the
> impact of our efforts as a community. (I am unaware of any serious
> study of Free Software by behavioral economists. This particular
> summary is more useful in regard to understanding the motivation of
> teachers whom we'd like to consider adopting Sugar and perhaps become
> more observant about what they are doing with the platform in their
> classrooms.
> I am thinking about each of their principles as a vehicle for asking
> questions that I am hoping community members may be able to discuss.
> * "Other people’s behavior matters."
> :This would suggest that we need to expose teachers to Sugar best
> practices that they can then emulate. Can we identify the "mavens",
> "connectors", and "salespeople" in our target communities? What
> resources can we apply to influence their adoption of Sugar? For
> example, I am working with a small school district in the Boston
> metropolitan area that other, larger districts follow closely. If we
> can have an influence with a "maven" district, we may get broad
> leverage. It also suggests that we need to be vigilant as a community
> to make sure that our examples for emulation are pedagogically sound.

On my todo list is to try to get some publicity on our work at the GPA.

I hope other deployments also consider getting some publicity and letting us
know if its ok for us to talk about them in Sugar publicity.

At this point I think just letting people know that there are other people
around the world doing Sugar and Sugar on a Stick is valuable.

> * "Habits are important."
> :This would suggest that we raise awareness about some of the habits
> that are part and parcel with the status quo. What incentives can we
> provide that would encourage change? What actions can we take to
> sustain and reinforce changes in behavior?

I am struck by the fact that no adult in the developed world writes essays
on paper, but that is how we teach students to do it.

I think we can show people how the habits we are instilling in students in
elementary school are not the habits we want them to have, then show a
solution.  This is one way we support teachers doing the right thing.

> * "People are motivated to ‘do the right thing’."

This is a very very very big one for us.

One of the many ways we can do this aligning with, and enabling things that
teachers already believe are "right". For instance, portfolio evaluation,
Response to Intervention, best practices in literacy, alignment with

Teachers also believe that giving their students "21st Century Skills" is
the right thing to do.

> :We need to engage teachers in a discussion about what is "the right
> thing" and remind them that the right thing is often hard work: "Sire,
> there is no Royal Road to Geometry" – Euclid.

Probably the thing that impressed me the most at the GPA was watching
2nd graders struggle for an hour and a half with negative numbers and
Cartesian coordinate systems to put their turtle in the right place on
the map.  Some got it and some didnt'. But what really impressed me
was they were all still trying at the end of the class.

Eventually we all run into problems that are hard for us.  The belief
that continued effort will result in success is crucial.

I also think teachers want to contribute to global education and being
active in our community is a way to enable them to do that.

> * "People’s self-expectations influence how they behave: they want
> their actions to be in line with their values and their commitments."
> :This is a tough one for us, because much of what we are doing is not
> in line with expectations. However, we as long as we are on a sound
> footing in terms of values, we are in a position of influence.

I actually think we are doing a good job of
being in line with values and commitments.  We are supporting ePorftolios
and 21st Century Skills, which seem to be in line with many teachers values.
 We should continue to look for things that teachers already believe they
value and that we can help them achieve.

> * "People are loss-averse and hang on to what they consider ‘theirs’."
> :Sugar need not be an either-or proposition. (Sugar on a Stick means
> there is nothing to give up in taking up Sugar.) And as Minsky has
> pointed out, until you understand something from more than one way,
> you don't understand it. Sugar can be offer another perspective on
> their status quo.

+1 for not making them give anything up.

> * "People are bad at computation when making decisions."
> :Further, they are often intimidated by the prospects of learning new
> things (until they are actually doing it). "Immediate losses are
> stronger incentives than long-term rewards." This would imply that we
> really need to keep the "pain" associated with getting started to an
> absolute minimum.

This is why I am trying to make the TeacherMate content a reality for
Sugar.  Its a low pain way for teachers to get started and to develop
the habit of using Sugar.

I have also listed what seem to me to be the top technical pain points
for trying Sugar on a STick with a class:

> * "People need to feel involved and effective to make a change."
> :We have a community with a potential for great discourse that
> welcomes contributions. This is one of our real strengths."

+1 this is one of big strengths.  We need to continue to focus on making
teachers feel like they are contributors to the Sugar community and to
global education.

> ===Help wanted===
> 3. Last week's discussion about feedback led to the suggestion that I
> highlight feedback from the field in the ''Sugar Digest''. Please send
> me reports that I can include each week.
> ===In the community===
> 4. There has been a lot of activity on our "community-powered" support
> portal [http://getsatisfaction.com/sugarlabs]. The interface is a bit
> clumsy, but much more friendly to non-developers than the  trac
> system. Check it out. (Dennis Daniels has been including links to
> screencasts with most of his posts.)
> ===Tech Talk===
> 5. In the run up to string freeze for Release 0.86, Simon Schampijer
> led a triage session (See [http://dev.sugarlabs.org/milestone/0.86]).
> 6. Tom Gilliard (satellit) continues to experiment with alternative
> formats for Sugar LiveUSB images (See
> http://people.sugarlabs.org/Tgillard/).
> ===Sugar Labs===
> 7. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
> the IAEP mailing list (Please see [[File:2009-August-8-14-som.jpg]]).
> ===Just for fun===
> Another quote from ''A Fire Upon the Deep'': "Finally they pulled the
> big, floppy ears simultaneously: the dataset popped open." Sounds like
> he was describing an OLPC XO-1.
> -walter
> --
> Walter Bender
> Sugar Labs
> http://www.sugarlabs.org
> _______________________________________________
> IAEP -- It's An Education Project (not a laptop project!)
> IAEP at lists.sugarlabs.org
> http://lists.sugarlabs.org/listinfo/iaep

Caroline Meeks
Solution Grove
Caroline at SolutionGrove.com

617-500-3488 - Office
505-213-3268 - Fax
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